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Lebanese Parliament holds a round of voting for head of state but fails to elect president


BEIRUT — Lebanon's Parliament has held a round of voting but failed to elect a new head of state in its first try before President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expires on May 25.

According to Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing system, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.

A candidate must secure at least a two thirds majority in the 128-member parliament to become president.

Wednesday's round kicked off what is expected to be a lengthy and fierce election. Samir Geagea, a former Christian warlord who is staunchly anti-Hezbollah, garnered only 48 votes. Many among the rival Hezbollah-led camp cast blank ballots.

A compromise candidate who is not affiliated with either camps has yet to emerge.

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